The Salt of the Earth

Postscript to Paris – Saturday 14 November 2015
I posted the unfinished piece about Paris at 4.am and went to bed completely drained, despondent and almost desperate for the human race. Now the news is everywhere but at the time I was astonished by the power of the story as it emerged through sound only. I guess that is why my father insisted on total silence as the News was read daily on the ‘wireless’ at 6pm during WWII and some years after.

The evening before I had seen the amazing film “The Salt of the Earth” about Sebastiao Salgado and was blown away by the images; it is five star stunning and not to be missed by anyone interested in photography, life, the planet and so on. The commentary is gentle and thoroughly human. The Times calls it “Awe-inspiring…Unmissable”, which is true. But, and it is a big but, Salgado at one point after a long trip photographing the genocide in Rwanda, he felt he would put down his camera for good. “The human being is a cruel animal,” he says. “I no longer believed in anything.” He uses even more forceful even desperate language in the film that underlines that cruelty. The end however is positively encouraging, thankfully!

Put the two together and it is very hard to see the current problems of the world being resolved. Why does religion get in the way? Is there anything such as a just war? Why cannot all people treat each other with decency and love – it is quite beyond me, especially today. For now I think of Paris and invite you to listen to the song ‘Champs Élysées’ by Zaz that catches the essence of that wonderful city.

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